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As Liechtenstein is so tiny, the small number of football clubs from the principality participate in the leagues of the Swiss football association. FC Vaduz have been playing in the Challenge League, Switzerland’s second tier, since 2001. After performing admirably well in recent seasons, the club – coached by former Swiss international Heinz Hermann – succeeded in taking top spot this season, thus securing automatic promotion to Switzerland’s top division, the Super League, and also marking a historic achievement for club football in Liechtenstein.
In neighbouring Austria, joint hosts of EURO 2008 alongside Switzerland, officials from the association are already looking to the future of the game. Aware of the fact that there can be no organised football without referees and that referees are a rare breed, the Austrian association has launched a huge campaign, called Karriere mit Pfiff, or “A Career with a Whistle”, in order to encourage young people to swell the ranks of the 2,500 referees and assistant referees registered in Austria. The initial results of the campaign have been encouraging.
The Baltic Cup, launched in 1908, was staged for the 80th time this year. This competition between the national teams of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Belarus also took part during the days of the USSR) took place in Latvia this year between the U-21 teams of the three countries.
Two recent events provide further evidence of the growth in women’s football in Europe. In Northern Ireland, a deal has been signed with a dairy business, which will sponsor the women’s game and boost its development, while in Sweden, it will now be possible to follow women’s league matches live and call up comprehensive statistics on the association’s website.